Romantic Places to Propose
Planning on popping the question? Here are the best places in Devon to propose - from secluded coves and mountain tops, to vineyards and stately homes.
A chocolate-box holiday cottage
Could there be a more romantic place to propose than in your own thatched holiday cottage? Our luxury Devon cottage, in the pretty thatched village of North Bovey in Dartmoor National Park, has a crackling log fire, huge bath for two, epic views and a romantic rose garden. We’ve had dozens of marriage proposals - and are pleased to say a 100% ‘yes’ rate!
A 12th century hilltop church
The ruggedly romantic landscape of Dartmoor offers an abundance of places to propose for outdoor lovers. One of the most romantic places on Dartmoor is the tiny parish church of The Church of St Michel de Rupe, sitting atop Brent Tor, with spectacular views of Dartmoor.
Sharpham vineyard, Totnes
With views of the River Dart and Capability Brown-designed hillsides, the award-winning Sharpham vineyard in South Devon is made for marriage proposals. Perched above the meandering River Dart, it's become one of the UK's best-known winemakers. You can wander at will through the vine-covered slopes to find the perfect proposal location, then repair to the romantic cafe for a celebratory glass of bubbly. The most romantic way to get there is by hiring your own private picnic boat up the River Dart.
A Dartmoor gorge
Taking in a fairy-tale castle, oak-lined gorge, ancient stone bridge and traditional pub, this two-hour walk along the Teign River is pure romance - especially in autumn when the colours are extraordinary. Hunter’s Path runs higher up the valley, while Fisherman’s Path traces the spectacular wooded riverbank path, where kingfishers and woodpeckers dart between shaded pools, and trout, salmon and otters frolic in deep, clear waters. The small rocky beaches are perfect places for picnics and toe-dipping. Look out for glimpses of Prestonbury Castle Iron Age hill fort on the other side of the valley. At the bottom of the gorge is the age-old Fingle bridge, which has recessed buttresses for packhorses to pass. Behind it is Fingle Bridge Inn, which serves a mean cream tea and has a pretty terrace overlooking the river. In spring, the woodlands here are carpeted with bluebells and daffodils.
The River Dart, Holne
For an alternative proposal idea, pop the question at this local beauty spot after a bracing dip in the river. There’s a romantic swimming and picnic spot with a high corner pool, a deep, tranquil lower corner pool for serious swimmers; and a cliff for daredevil jumpers. It can get busy on a hot day as families gather to picnic on the common, and parking can be a problem - get there early for a space, or walk the half-mile from the car park at New Bridge.
Grade-1 listed gardens, Tavistock
A wildly romantic verdantly-gardened Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, these Grade-1 listed gardens have shell houses, grottos and hidden glades for a romantic tête-à-tête. Once she’s said yes - how could she resist in such a setting - head inside for a champagne cream tea.
Ancient dwarf oak forest, Two Bridges
If you love mysticism, Wistman’s Wood is the place to propose. A vestige of the prehistoric dwarf oak trees that used to cover Dartmoor, it’s straight out of Lord of the Rings. Here, moss-covered, boulder-strewn woodland floor is dotted with stunted oaks furred with mosses and lichen. The easy one-hour walk starts from the Two Bridges Hotel, near Princetown.
Your own sandy cove
Proposing on the beach is an oldie but a goodie. It’s hard to choose from the array of beauties on the south coast, but Mill Bay, a quick ferry ride across the water from Salcombe, tops our list for being seaweed-free and warmed by the sun all day. In the summer, it gets busy, so take an Ordnance Survey map to walk to quieter coves further up the coast, or hire a tender boat from town. Further west along the coast, wetsuits outnumber bikinis on south Devon’s only surf beach, Bantham. Look out for stand-up paddle surfers, a quirky new take on the sport. Lannacombe Sands is a local secret. This small, sandy horseshoe cove near Kingsbridge, is at the end of a long dirt track and only has space for six cars, so get there before 10am and you’ll be assured a spot, even in the height of summer. North east along the coast from Salcombe, nestled below wooded cliffs, is Blackpool Sands, a mile-long, privately owned sweep of shingle. By day, swimmers can practise their dives from a floating dock; at sunset, the café serves beach BBQs. Beware, it attracts families in their droves during the school holidays.
Hot air balloon flight
Another idea for a luxury break in Devon is to take a hot air balloon flight at dawn or dusk over epic Dartmoor scenery. Local company Aerosauraus runs private champagne flights across Dartmoor or along Devon’s south coast.
The South West Coastal Path
Britain’s longest footpath traces the north and south coasts of Devon, offering easy access to wild and windswept cliffs, secluded sandy coves and tiny hamlets. The three-hour walk from Bolt Tail, near Hope Cove, to Bolt Head, near Salcombe, is our favourite, offering views of romantic beaches and jagged headlands.
A private island
This tiny private island off Bigbury-on-Sea houses an Art Deco hotel and a weather-beaten smugglers inn dating from 1336. If you want some privacy, head inland to find the perfect spot. Getting there is all part of the fun. Perched on the tiny, tidal outcrop of Burgh Island, surrounded by sandy beaches and choppy seas, it’s cut off from the mainland twice a day so you’ll need to consult a tide table when planning your visit. When the seas have parted, it’s a short walk across the spit. When the waters start coming in, a high-sided ‘sea tractor’ ferries passengers across.
A private picnic boat on the River Dart
For a proposal idea that’s bound to win you brownie points, hire a private Picnic Boat up the beautiful River Dart, stopping off in little bays to go crabbing and at Sharpham Vineyard.
A stately home, Plympton, near Plymouth
This one is for culture vultures - the National Trust property of Saltram House may look familiar: it was used as the Dashwood’s’ pad in Ang Lee’s film of Sense and Sensibility. The grand Georgian façade has a Robert Adam interior with original Chippendale furniture, Wedgwood China and portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
One of the most romantic locations for a Devon wedding proposal is Lydford Gorge, nestled in the north-western reaches of Dartmoor. Owned by the National Trust, the oak tree lined gorge is the deepest in the South West, stretching 1.5 miles from Lydford Village. A fairly strenuous, three and a half mile round walk, high above the gorge, brings you past the spectacular 30 metre White Lady Waterfall which cascades majestically into the chasm below. Following the route around, you will descend into the gorge and return via a low path beside the River Lyd which carves a tumbling course through the steep-sided valley. Towards the end, the trail rises slowly up to the Devil's Cauldron where a metal grid is the only thing separating you from the ferocious whirlpool below. If you want to be sure to have the romantic location for yourself, the best time to visit is shortly after it opens in the morning.
Watching the sunset
What could be more romantic than walking hand in hand across the pristine sands of a tranquil bay while the last light of the day ebbs away beyond the horizon? West-facing Croyde Bay in North Devon is perfect for observing one of the most awe-inspiring sunsets in the South West. The beautiful swathe of sand is stunning during the day and becomes illuminated by a warm, golden light as the sun melts into the sea at nightfall. Backed by sand dunes and framed by dramatic cliffs it's a great opportunity to crack out the camera and take a few photos which wouldn't look out of place in an exotic honeymoon brochure.
With clear, dark nights, Dartmoor is a fantastic place to view the night sky, with the Milky Way often clearly visible. Grab a picnic rug from the cottage, a torch, blanket and bottle of wine and head to the top of Hound Tor, one of the most romantic easily accessible places to stargaze on Dartmoor.
The rose garden at RHS Rosemore
Set within wonderful woodlands, RHS Rosemoor is a highly ornamental garden with shrubs, roses, perennials and bulbs. Originally created by Lady Anne Berry, the gardens still have original features including the woodland garden and woodland banks, as well as a huge variety of ornamental woodland trees and shrubs including Collingwood Ingram cherry introductions. There is also the beautiful Queen Mother Rose Garden containing a marvellous collection of hybrid tea and floribunda roses, and a maze of pathways which gradually leads to the side of the valley with views overlooking Rosemoor House.
Crime novelist Agatha Christie is said to have described Greenway, which was her holiday home, as ‘the loveliest place in the world’. It’s a delight to discover the walled garden, boathouse, vinery and historic interiors. Literary fans will be in their element, as the author set three of her novels here, relaxed with friends and played croquet within the grounds. Follow the romantic woodland that leads down the hillside towards to the shimmering Dart estuary for a stolen moment together.